Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts

Antiquity and Origins

Tradition is that the principles of Yon Ch’uan (Soft Fist) Chinese Internal Martial Arts was created by Chen Hsi-I (pronounced Chin-Hee). Chen was a Taoist from the Hwa Shan mountain range in Shansi during the early part of the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Yon Ch’uan is an ancient Chinese temple-style meditation in movement, a martial art health care science. It comprises more than 500 sequenced, rounded, graceful, balanced movement patterns. Of the hundreds of different styles of Chinese Martial Arts, only three styles are considered Internal. They are Hsing-I Ch’uan (Form of the Will Boxing), Pa Kua Chang (Eight Trigrams Palm) and T’ai Chi Ch’uan (Grand Supreme Boxing). Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts incorporates the best principles of all three of the Internal martial arts styles and was first known by the name “Lop Hop Pak Fat (Liou He Ba Fah or Liu Ho Pa Fa), which means “Six Combinations & Eight Methods.” The art has also been known as “Swimming Boxing,” “Twelve Movements of Exercise Before Birth,” “Idea Six Combination Boxing” and “Idea Spiritual Boxing.”

Under the teaching of the late Grand Master John Chung Li, the art was known as Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Master Li named it for the mountain range where the art originated. He often showed his students the many impressive martial art applications but always emphasized correct posturing and movement principles to enhance the many health care benefits of Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi Ch’uan.

John Li was an internationally renowned Internal Martial Arts Grand Master who was tremendously skilled in the three major Internal martial arts systems. He was highly distinguished and respected by the great internal martial arts master of his time in China, Europe and the United States. Master Li taught the Internal health care science of Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi and the advanced exercises of the “Wan Yean Circle Palm Internal Art” to many university students in the United States, including Yale, Harvard, MIT, Boston University and the New England Medical Center. Master Li taught more than 700 seriously committed students while he lived in the United States including Master Robert Xavier.

Grand Master Xavier is one of only a few privileged students to receive certification from Master Li in both the Internal health care benefits of Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi Ch’uan and the more than 500 elite Internal movement vocabulary of the Yon Ch’uan self-defense system formerly known as Lop Hop Pak Fat.

Master Li gave the lineage of Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts to Master Robert Xavier shortly before his death. Master Li died in 1982. Master Xavier is the Chief Instructor and Lineage Holder of Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts and Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi Ch’uan with Headquarters in Bradenton, Florida.

Yon Ch’uan Principles & Practice

Yon Ch’uan is one of the few authentic internal systems which still integrates specialized psychomotor techniques, as originally taught by the Taoist Monks. It is one of the elder systematized forms of internal martial arts. The fluid movements are spherical, esthetically beautiful and seemingly without beginning or end. Yon Ch’uan emphasizes the use of the internal psychomotor energy termed Chi (internal life energy or atmosphere), and Geng (bone strength and joint suppleness), as opposed to visible ridged muscular strength. It is in dramatic contrast to the external or HARD martial arts characteristics. The Yon Ch’uan schools of raining emphasizes the use of least muscle resistance, through yielding, emptying, entwining, and penetrating as a means to subduing force rather than meeting force with force.

The source of strength in the Yon Ch’uan Internal System is derived from a relaxed posture of perfectly balanced whole body power connected in unison with springy energy spiraling through the physical body movement. The essential difference between meeting force with external ridged strength as opposed to internal energy is when resisting force with force you engage the attacker on his/her terms. Whereas, when using SOFT internal energy, you deny both your attacker’s expectations and the object of his/her attack: Yourself. Through daily practice the practitioner acquires startling speed and focused strength with superior ability to apply effortlessly the six basic principles unique to the Yon Ch’uan System. These basic principles are redirection, evasion, quartering, entrapment, absorption and reflection. These basic principles are able to be applied to both the practioners life experiences and self-defense training. The system teaches students to avoid physical force, whenever possible, but when unavoidable, how to utilize the escalation of force to insure personal safety. Students develop realistic confidence!

Three Zone Defense Theory

The Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts System incorporates three zones of self-defense training. The Three Zone Defense theory is a seemingly simple action, however it is loaded with subtleties that require years of practice to perform them succinctly with total relaxed mind/intent and body integration. Mind/intent is the neutral point between cause and effect. As you relax the mind and body to reduce tension, your physical body and conscious mind will find a neutral point between cause and effect so that your thoughts can cleanly and succinctly be expressed through unconscious physical action.

The First Zone (physical contact applied) and Second Zone operate within the sphere of the practioner’s physical space and teaches, superior kinetic body alignment and sensitivity training. Classical Chinese Kung Fu rooting methods, mid-line blocks and parries, throws, submission holds, pressure points, locks, escapes and counters are an integral part of the First and Second Zone training methods.

The Yon Ch’uan defense principles emphatically instill not to meet force with force, but rather yield and overcome aggression through the redirection of force, restraints and submission holds, evasion, absorption, reflection and escapes. In like manner the Second Zone, within the sphere of the practioner’s physical space is sometimes the most difficult zone of defense to defend from compassion because of lag-time reaction. The use of an ancient anatomy charting method which loosely translates as “mid-line quartering” allows the practioner to maintain control of the attackers midline and with skillful ability neutralize and immobilize the aggressor with minimal effort or bodily harm to the aggressor. The same defense principles apply for the Third Zone, not within reachable space of the aggressor’s attack. The practioner learns how to utilize an attacker’s strength and weaknesses to effect easy-to-use escape skills and to avoid injury. Maximum efficiency of self-defense skill is realized through economy of movement and least muscle resistance.

For more information about Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts in your area, contact Mark McGee at gracemartialarts1@gmail.com.

Download the Yon Ch’uan Martial Arts Black Belt Study Guide here.

Sensei McGee is editor of the famous The Chinese Five Word Song available in paperback and on Kindle.

Copyright Grace Martial Arts, 1990-2023



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